Easy and Delicious Indian Gulab Jamun

Indian Gulab Jamun on a white plate with a spoon

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1116 Calories
54g Fat
145g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 1116
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 54g 69%
Saturated Fat 20g 101%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 345mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 145g 53%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 120g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 562mg 43%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 711mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Gulab jamun (or gulaab jamun) is among India's most popular desserts and is often referred to as "Indian doughnuts." This delicious sweet treat consists of soft, melt-in-your-mouth, fried dumplings that are traditionally made of thickened or reduced milk and then soaked in a sugar syrup made with rose water (which you can buy or make). This recipe uses powdered milk and heavy cream, but the results are just as delicious.

The name comes from two words. Gulab means "rose" and refers to the rose syrup. Jamun is a kind of deep purple-colored Indian berry, which the dark brown dumplings resemble after they're cooked. The rose-flavored syrup lends the dessert a beautiful fragrance and makes it feel decadent and very special. Gulab jamun can be served warm or at room temperature and with a variety of extras to make the dessert even more exceptional, such as chopped pistachios. Best of all, it's relatively easy to make.

"These little balls are fluffy and sweet with a great aroma from cardamom and rosewater. They can burn really quickly so I suggest keeping the oil temperature around 360 F maximum. They will also double in size once soaked, so make sure that the pot with the syrup is big enough." —Tara Omidvar

Indian Gulab Jamun in a white bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water

  • 3 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom

  • 2 tablespoons rose water

  • 3 cups powdered milk

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 cup heavy cream, or double cream, thickened

  • Vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil, for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients gathered for gulab jamin

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add the water and sugar to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

    Sugar and water boiling in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the ground cardamom and rose water. Set the syrup aside.

    Cardamom and rose water added to sugar water mix in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. In a large bowl, combine the powdered milk, flour, and baking powder.

    Powdered milk, flour, and baking powder in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the heavy cream a little at a time while kneading to make a dough that is medium-soft but not sticky. You may not use all the cream. Use just enough to reach the desired consistency; the smoother it is, the better, and the less likely that the dough will become hard when it's fried.

    Dough for gulab jamun in a ball in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Lightly oil the palms of your hands.

    Hands greased with oil

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Once the dough is ready, divide it into walnut-sized balls, rolling it between your palms until nice and smooth.

    Gulab jamun dough rolled into small balls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Meanwhile, fill a wide pan with enough oil to deep fry the doughnuts. Heat the oil medium heat to between 350 F and 360 F.

    Skillet with oil for gulab jamun

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Carefully add the gulab jamun and fry, in batches if necessary to not crowd the pan, turning often to brown all sides.

    Gulab jamun frying in a pan with oil

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Once cooked, remove the doughnuts with a slotted spoon, allowing the oil to drain.

    Gulab jamun removed from the pan with oil, with a slotted spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  11. Transfer immediately into the rose syrup.

    Gulab jamun dipped into a pot with rose syrup

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  12. Repeat this until all the dumplings are cooked and in the syrup. Allow the gulab jamun to soak in the syrup for at least 2 hours before serving. 

    Indian gulab jamun soaking in a pot of rose syrup

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • Any cracks that show up when rolling the dough into balls get worse later and could lead to the doughnuts cracking as they are fried. This is not desirable, so take all the time you need to make sure the balls of dough are very smooth.
  • Do not cook the gulab jamun over very high heat (over 360 F), as the dumplings will burn on the outside and remain raw inside.

Variations

  • There are many ways that you can enjoy gulab jamun. They are delicious drained of the syrup as well as served in the syrup; it's also common to roll them in desiccated coconut.


  • Warm gulab jamuns are fantastic when topped with ice cream or a thick cream. You can also garnish the doughnuts with shavings of pistachio and a sprinkling of almonds if you wish, or even fresh rose petals.

How to Store and Freeze Gulab Jamun

  • You can keep these at room temperature for several days and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  • You can reheat them in the microwave quickly. Gulab jamun can be frozen, too, for up to 3 months.

Why Does Gulab Jamun Dissolve When Frying?

There are two possible reasons. Either the oil is not hot enough, or the dough is too dry. Make sure the oil is 350 F to 360 F. You may find it helpful to cover the dough as you're rolling it if rolling takes a long time; this will also help protect them from drying out.